Gyumri is the city of masters. The craftsmen, among them stone-cutters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and carpenters carefully preserve the skills they have inherited from their grandpas and those that preceded them.

The city of Gyumri (officially 120,641 voters, briefly Kumayri, before that Leninakan, before that Alexandropol) .

The city is built on a north-south axis, with the center being very pedestrian friendly. The main square in fact has a couple of pedestrians-only streets leading away from it, two large churches anchoring the two ends, and fountains in the center. This used to be the big partly covered shuka (market) which was leveled by the Soviet government. Until the Soviet expansion of Armenia's new capital of Yerevan, it was Gyumri, or Alexandropol as it was known as at the time that was the largest city of the re. The older city architecture therefore is very nice. One of Armenia's more interesting characters was born here, George Gurdjieff. He was a spiritual leader who is virtually unknown in Armenia, but has a worldwide following. In 1926, League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Fridtjof Nansen, accompanied by his secretary, fellow Norwegian Vidkun Quisling of later dark repute, visited Gyumri and its huge complex of schools and orphanages sheltering 11,000 Armenian orphans under the auspices of the American Near East Relief. There is a very worthwhile city museum, with a good overview of the towns history, architecture, and cultural treasures. There are some Carzous and Aivazovskis hidden in this museum as well The only real attraction very nearby is Marmashen Monastery. Much further south, on the old highway to Yerevan (which is not in good shape) you can pre-arrange for a viewing of the ruins of Ani, from the Armenian side of the border, and a bit further south is the very nice Yereruyk Basilica, perched on the Armenian border with Turkey. The area surrounding the not so far town of Artik has its own set of attractions, including the impressive Harichavank Monastery, plus other sites such as Lmbatavank Church, Garnahovit Church, and others. If you can get permission to go behind the military line and visit Ani Overlook, where the extensive ruins of a Medieval Armenian capital across the river in Turkey are clearly visible, it is well worth the terrible road.


  • Shirak Region in Armenia.
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